Friday, October 06, 2006

Trauma: Life in the ER

Snort. I watch that show all the time. it's on Discovery Health and we were stuck on it this summer when nothing else was on. R and I did a summer-long stint with it. We were glued to every episode at 1 in the morning.

You know why these people are so traumatized? Um, cuz they saw the bill afterward.

Yesterday, I had to go to the ER.

I always joke that if I ever have to go to the hospital, I want my kids to take me out back and shoot me. Today--I ain't jokin'. LMAO

I say this because it's costly and with no insurance for me, the self employed, it's just nuts. R had to go this weekend for something rather minor and when I saw the bill and the uninsured amount he ended up paying, I thought, oh, not so bad. It was like 350 bucks. R had a swollen uvula. You know the thing that looks like a punching bag in the back of your mouth? it looked like a basketball laying on his tongue. LOL. it was swollen and red and wobbling back there, blocking his throat and giving him a tough time swallowing.

Turns out he had a virus and they gave him a shot of steroids and all was good. He's fine now.

As for me--not so fine. I've been having some serious stomach issues. It's been about a month and a half since it started and yesterday, it got so bad, I couldn't put my feet on the ground. It hurts all the time. sometimes it's a dull ache. sometimes it's more severe. I was dizzy and I broke out in a sweat. I NEVER sweat. The pains range from lower abdomen to under my ribs and yesterday, they were firmly rooted in my lower abdomen. I think maybe an ulcer. I've had one of those too and it hurts, just not quite like this, but maybe they vary. My stomach is also bloated and swollen which led me to believe, the open thighs, insert torture device doc might be needed.

Now, let me preface this by saying, I'm not much for doctors. I don't cry when I get a paper cut (unless it ruins a good manicure). I had a baby on those drugs that induce labor with nary a word spoken. Just a grunt or two. In essence--I ain't no pansy.

But hellllooooo--this almost (almost) equaled the kidney stones I got after I so valiantly had my kid. Now THAT is ungodly pain. And for weeks after, I suffered because it turns out they ripped my insides all up. 'Twas dreadful.

So I kinda knew it wasn't kidney stones, I just knew it was something and I couldn't take it anymore. So with R's not so bad bill in mind, me and the oldest monster go to the ER. I've been there a few times with him because he's had a couple of accidents. He had stitches and he got his toe caught in a car wash thingy when he was working at a car wash. They were quick and efficient and I liked that.

I figure, I'll be in and out in no time.


The drive over was painful. Every freakin' bump in the road hurt. I joked with my kid that my uterus was gonna fall out and he'd have to carry it in to the ER.

he turned a whiter shade of pale and said, "Really?"

Sigh. So I'm sure this has something to do with my ovaries or like my girly parts and I'm ready to give those bad boys up without a fight. You will not hear me complain that I'm only half a woman without her uterus. I say--yank the friggin' thing out. It's nothing but trouble.

We arrive at the ER at 1 in the afternoon. I sign in, I sit down with the kid -- whose arm I've stretched out of shape from grabbing it. I wait.

I don't wait long even though it's packed. I figure this is a good sign. Um, NO. They call me, I tell them the trouble, I have all my stats taken and I go to a room.

Almost IMMEDIATELY Doogie Howser shows up. Fresh-faced, clean, cute as a button. I figure, yee haw, he's going to have to lay hands on me. That's a nice way to cop a free feel when you're forty, yes?

Um, no. Though he does ask what's wrong. I tell him. My ovaries are going to explode--what can ya give me to stop the pain? He laughs. He says a cat scan is in order and he says he's going to give me an IV with some Motrin. EXCELLENT. I'm ready to find out that my innards are damaged and need to be removed poste haste. I'm not sure how I'll pay for it, but I don't care. take them OUT.

A couple of minutes later, Nurse Thinkshe'sacomedian shows up and hooks me up with an IV. This dude was icky. he needs a roto rooter for his nostril hairs and boy, does he ever think he missed his calling in nursing. He thought he was a gas. I thought he was a tard, but who am I to argue when he's got the good stuff and I need it. He gives me the IV with the meds and wants a urine sample. I'm all about the urine sample. I gotta go--I fill 'er up and go back to my bed.

Five minutes later, the cat scan dude arrives and whisks me off. Now, I'm not thinking cost here. it's all of five minutes and I'm thinking how bad could that be? Breathe in--breathe out--it's over. I'm taken back to my room and my kids gone to get something to eat.

I remain in my room for FIVE HOURS. No word. I'm bored out of my MIND and I want out. I try to pass the time peacefully. I make up stories in my head. I make up more stories in my head. I have no stories left after five hours. My muse it at now at McDonalds having a Big Mac and I wanna join her.

I'm not happy come 6 o'clock. Not happy at all. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty and I want OUT. R calls in the middle of this and he's on his way. Just as he shows up I've finished very politely telling the nice male nurse at the nurses station that I'm going home. I hold up my hand and say, "See this? I'm taking it out, getting dressed, paying the bill and going HOME. Buh-bye."

He says there are four people ahead of me, waiting to have their test results read and he's sorry. he'll see what he can do. Oh, good. Glad to hear it. I'm out. Call me with the results.

ironically, all those before me fell to the wayside when I said I was leaving. Doogie shows back up like a nanosecond later, just as cute as ever, concerned that I'm going home. Hell, yeah I'm going home. This is ridiculous. How long does it take to look at a CAT scan? You're not solving rubics cube, for shit's sake.

Turns out, nothing is wrong. All of my organs are FAB. Like a 20 year olds. Good as new. My first thought was damn it all, I wanted my uterus taken out so I could hang it on my wall in memorandum. My second thought is, WTF? Doogie says I have a kidney stone that hasn't passed, but that's not the problem. I say SHIT, I never want to do that again, take it out. He says it could pass between now and when I'm 70. That's not the problem. it isn't what's causing me the pain. Could be a gastro problem, or possibly a prob for the OBGYN.


Hookay, then. Good. Now I'm going home. The Motrin helped and I just want out. I tell him I'm taking out my IV. He laughs and says, "Oh, no. I'll get the nurse." Groovy. Hurry it the hell up.

Again, I wait. Just as I'm about to take it out, and R is yelling at me to stop it now, the nurse shows up. The comedian. He yanks out my IV and I go to pay my bill.

I really shoulda considered ending it all BEFORE I got to the paying portion of this damned event.

Ya ready?


And that's with the fricken' uninsured discount.

I asked the nice discharge lady what they thought they had going on in there? I sure as crap didn't stay in the Presidential Suite and the room service SUCKS. While the eyeball candy was okay, I don't pay for my cheap thrills--so you can knock that off my list of room charges. She giggles. Cuz ya know, I'm funny and all. She explains the charges. She also asks about my very interesting job as a writer. I had to fill out a form with my occupation. I tell her all her questions about my job will be answered when she finds herself whacked in one of my books. She giggles again and tells me that she realizes it's expensive.

I say, "Really? What about 3k is expensive? For that amount and the kind of care I got, I should be leaving with the meaning of life."

She giggles again and hands me my bill. I throw her a couple of hundreds and hit the parking lot.

it isn't just my stomach that hurts today.

Dakota :)


  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Michelle said…

    oy's babe, i'm so sorry. first off, i can't talk about the cost of medical care cause it makes me nuts..i see red and want to hit something. so all i'm gonna say is get better and make payments. if the hospital in texASS is like the one here, they don't charge interest, thank heavens for small (very small) favors.


  • At 11:00 AM, Blogger Sam said…

    Damn. Sorry to hear that.

    We still owe money to the doctors for the twins (born twenty one years ago in Florida in the good old US of A.)
    My son Alex, in college in the US, is insured. I use most of my EC money to keep him insured. His first accident cost 5000$ - he cut his leg. Thank God he was insured. (I pay about 2500$ a year for his insurance.)
    Thank goodness I don't have to think about insurance over here in France - it comes out of our taxes.

  • At 4:25 PM, Blogger Bonita said…

    Ouch! {{{{{Dakota}}}}} I hope you feel better.

    My younger sister has had large medical bills for the last 20 years. If you pay even as much as $10 a month, they have to honour your payments and leave you alone. After 5 years (or ten, I can not remember which), all payments left are supposed to be forgiven.

  • At 5:21 PM, Blogger Vikky said…

    OH Darling!! I am so sorry to read this. I hope you feel better soon and with out more pain or fun trips to the hospital.

  • At 11:15 PM, Blogger Jenna Leigh said…

    So..did you get a jar of vaseline at least? *smiles* I'll stop there.. and simply say, I hope you feel better and/or your girly organs magically disappear for free.. as soon as mine do.

  • At 2:30 AM, Blogger Robin49 said…

    Oh Dakota how aweful! I hope your feeling better soon. That bill is fricken too much! I also heard about just paying over time that balances get forgiven. I can't remember how long though.

  • At 8:54 AM, Blogger Dakota Cassidy said…

    Thanks, guys! I'm feeling better--but this is more a bitch about the cost of insurance and the cost of not having any.

    I'm infuriated by the idea that 3 grand is something they probably charge pretty frequently and I find it outrageous.

    That an American can't get insurance at a reasonable rate because she's self employed is LUDICROUS. I had insurance and had to let it go because it was running me almost 400 bucks per month and I never used it. The money they pack away, banking on the fact that you won't use it often in your lifetime is INSANE.

    Sigh--I'll pay the bill. I don't ever want anything for free. I ALWAYS pay my bills, but sheesh!

    DC :)

  • At 4:29 PM, Blogger Vicious Trollop said…

    Are you fucking kidding me????? 3 THOUSAND BUCKS? I'm sorry but that's insane! I could get a boob job here for that, and I'd probably have money left for a candy bar or something! Jaysus! That's a lot of money LOL

    Anyway, hope you're feeling better babe :) At least you know what's wrong now, and how to treat it.


  • At 11:30 PM, Blogger Michelle B said…

    I hope you're feeling better DC! The cost of treatment and the insurance premiums are crazy:/ I'm having insurance issues myself. Now that I'm working "part-time" at multiple schools, I don't have health insurance and getting it has been a major PITA. Sigh.

    And I absolutely hate going to the doctor, so like you, I only go if I absolutely have to go.

  • At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hmmm. Hope you're feeling better! Have had kidney stones--had to have lithotripsy to break it up ($7,000+) according to my insurance statement. Have had the girly parts removed (YEAH!!!) back when I was 29 and that was over $10,000 even back then (thank goodness for the hubby's medical coverage.

    When I had my last baby (the year before the girly parts removal) they charged me for a heat lamp for my stitches--except, DUMMIES!--I didn't have any stitches! Boy was it a pain in the tushie to get that charge removed--$75/day. So what if insurance was paying? That why premiums are so high.

    Now getting ready for the hubby's retirement. Big issue is medical coverage. Don't know what we're going to do. I have one on-going prescription that cost $248 a month without insurance.



  • At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dakota, I hope you're feeling better. Reading your blog sent chills up my spine. Your symptoms sound so much like what my sister went through a couple of year ago. Unfortunately, she was misdiagnosed and died 18 month later of ovarian cancer. So please, if the pain continues, seek a second opinion...I want to read more of your books. :)

  • At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OK, I have to toss my 2c in here...I LOVE YOUR BOOKS and I would hate to see you put under from medical bills...

    You just have to look into at a minimum a catastrophic medical plan that will keep you from getting crippled should the unthinkable happen... I've seen too many people play the "I need the money more than the coverage" game and lose...

    I'm so glad that they identified the problem, and I'm sorry that the bill was so incredibly high...but believe me (and I'm in the business) it is NOTHING compared to what it could have been!

    I hate to be the voice of doom-n-gloom, but please at least consider a cheapo catastrophic policy to protect you...

    OK...nuff lecturing...

    Love Ann (really, that is my name!)

  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger Dakota Cassidy said…

    INdeed, VT--3k. Can u imagine? LOL. I could probably get half a boob lift here for that amount. LOL

    Thanks, anon! I appreciate the kind words. I promise, I was just complaining about the state of ins here in the US. I'm okay now. I'm so sorry about your sister. My condolences, doll.

    Ann, Michelle B and Anny, I'm good to go now. Feeling better. I gotta believe I passed the stone before I got there and it shred my insides much like the first time I had them--hence the tummy troubles. But I'm better and I'm writing. So thanks ever so much for the nice words about my books!

    Thanks, all :)

    DC :)


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